CBD vs. CBN vs. CBG vs. CBC – Know Your Cannabinoids

CBD (Cannabidiol) has been the go-to cannabinoid ever since the 2018 Farm Bill was enacted. The Bill allowed the sale and production of hemp and its extracts. (1) CBD is known for its medicinal benefits, such as helping patients manage pain, anxiety, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

However, other cannabinoid strains have been developed over the last few years, giving customers a range of options to choose from. Among other cannabinoids extracted from the hemp plant are CBN, CBG, and CBC. They also have lots of health benefits without the intoxicating effects of THC. Here’s more about CBN vs. CBG and other cannabinoid strains.

What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are naturally occurring elements in the Cannabis Sativa plant. A mature plant contains 426 compounds in the form of flavonoids, cannabinoids, and terpenes. Sixty of the 426 compounds are cannabinoids, which are categorized into different subclasses:(2)

  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Cannabigerol (CBG)
  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
  • Cannabichromenes (CBC)
  • Cannabielsoin (CBE)
  • Cannabicyclol (CBL)
  • Cannabitriol (CBT)

The realization that CBD has potent therapeutic effects in the early 2000s prompted breeders to develop other cannabinoid strains like CBC and CBG. They also invented processes to convert more widely available cannabinoids into actual products. Now you can find products containing CBN, CBC, CBD, and CBG hence the need to study each cannabinoid to determine their strengths and benefits.

CBD

CBD is the short form for Cannabidiol, one of the most popular cannabinoids after THC. It’s extracted from the hemp plant and doesn’t contain the intoxicating high of THC. CBD is available in different forms, including oils, tinctures, isolates, ointments, and gums, and is sometimes consumed directly from cannabis.

The CBD segment has dominated the cannabinoid market over the years, with CBD product revenue accounting for 27.2% in 2021. It’s also estimated to generate revenue of up to $1.8 billion by 2022. (3) The growth is mainly attributed to the rising consumption of CBD-based products in the health and wellness industry. Studies show CBD has a range of health benefits, such as:

Manage Chronic Pain

Sativex, an oromucosal spray that contains equal proportions of CBD and THC, was approved to treat neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis in Canada. (4) Later the drug was approved to treat unresponsive pain in cancer patients.

Manage Epilepsy Symptoms

In 2018 the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug to treat seizures associated with epilepsy in kids. (5) Three studies involving 516 patients with Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome received the drug or a placebo. (6) Patients who took the drug and other prescribed medications experienced fewer seizures than the placebo group.

Manage PTSD Symptoms

Medical cannabis, along with therapy, helps manage PTSD symptoms. A study conducted in 2018 found that 10 out of 11 people experienced reduced PTSD symptoms after receiving CBD and psychiatric care for eight weeks. (7)

Manage ALS Symptoms

Research shows that people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) can manage its symptoms using a combination of CBD and THC.(8) ALS is a hereditary condition that causes deterioration of the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord leading to loss of muscle control. Patients with mild and severe ALS symptoms reported high levels of satisfaction with the CBD treatment.

Manage Anxiety

CBD is known for its calming effects and is one reason it’s so popular. A study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry found that CBD helped participants manage anxiety during public speaking. (9) Participants who received 300-600 mg of CBD experienced reduced anxiety during the test compared to the placebo group.

Minimize Opioid Addiction

Clinical trials on humans and animals suggest that CBD can help people with opioid addiction reduce cravings. A study conducted to determine CBD effects on people with heroin addiction found that it reduced their resting heart rate, withdrawal anxiety, and salivary cortisol levels. (10)

Manage Neurological Disease Symptoms

CBD has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties which protect the body against neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

A clinical trial conducted on patients with Parkinson’s disease found that 300mg/d of CBD improved their communication, mobility, and emotional state and reduced body discomfort compared to the placebo group. (11) However, more clinical studies are necessary to confirm the benefits of CBD in treating these disorders.

Ease Diabetic Symptoms

Tests on diabetic patients show CBD reduces the effects high glucose levels have on other body cells. One study found that CBD minimized neuropathic pain and chronic inflammation, which affects the hands and feet due to high glucose levels. (12)

CBD also reduces cholesterol and promotes the production of good fat by helping the body convert white fat to slimming brown fat. This process encourages the body to utilize glucose.

CBN

Cannabinol

CBN is an acronym for Cannabinol, the first cannabinoid to be discovered.  Robert Sidney Conn, a chemist from Britain, discovered it in 1930. Unlike other cannabinoids, which occur as stand-alone compounds, CBN forms as THC degrades in the Cannabis plant as it ages.

This means young cannabis plants or freshly-harvested marijuana have low CBN amounts and increase as they mature. Synthetic production of CBN is done by exposing THC to light and heat to break it down, producing CBN.

CBN doesn’t have the psychoactive effects of THC but is known for its sedative benefits. It binds to the cannabinoid receptor of the ECS (endocannabinoid system) to promote sleep. CBN hasn’t been researched as widely as THC and CBD, hence there’s little knowledge about its uses. The few studies conducted show CBN benefits like:

Improving Appetite

Although THC has been a great appetite booster for years, its intoxicating effects make it a less desirable remedy for this use. CBN is an excellent replacement for THC as it boosts one’s appetite without the intoxicating effects.

Minimizes Glaucoma Effects and Symptoms

CBN has proved helpful in treating eye conditions like glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye condition that damages the optic nerve due to extremely high pressure.

An in vitro study found that a topical CBN formula could improve the survival rates of retinal cells when exposed to high-pressure conditions. (13) THC and CBD were also administered during the test and CBN outperformed both cannabinoids.

Treat Skin Condition

Tests on a recently developed CBN cream found that it could treat Epidermolysis Bullosa. (14) This rare skin condition causes the skin to develop blisters easily. Epidermolysis Bullosa doesn’t have a cure, but the development of the CBN cream presents a breakthrough. CBN has anti-inflammatory properties that could aid the healing of wounds and blisters.

Anti-bacterial Effects

CBN also contains anti-bacterial properties. A study conducted in 2008 found that CBN could eliminate certain bacteria types, like the staph bacteria. (15) The bacteria is known to cause Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection, which has grown resistant to antibiotics used to treat regular staph infections. However, there’s a need for further research to verify CBN’s effectiveness in treating the infection.

CBN vs. CBD

The primary difference between the two cannabinoids is in their chemical structures. CBN is pretty similar to THC, but its effects are a combination of THC and CBD. That’s why it has better sedative effects than CBD, yet it hardly causes intoxicating effects on the user. Most people who have used CBN as a sedative report better results than those who use CBD.

Another notable difference between CBD and CBN is the range of options used to form the latter. CBD is a stand-alone cannabinoid in hemp, but CBN can be created in different ways. It may occur naturally by allowing the cannabis plant to age.

CBN may also be formed by allowing tetrahydrocannabivarin acid (THCV), a lesser-known cannabinoid, to age and convert to CBN. Tetrahydrocannabivarin acid is a precursor to the more popular THC, and when exposed to heat, it converts into cannabinolic acid, a CBN acidic precursor, then to CBN.

However, both cannabinoids possess various similarities, including anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

CBG

Cannabigerol

Often referred to as the mother of all cannabinoids, CBG is the first naturally-occurring cannabinoid in a new cannabis plant. It’s referred to as such because it’s derived from Cannabigerolic acid (CBGa), which can be converted to THC, CBD, and CBC when exposed to heat and light.

CBG occurs in small amounts, usually less than 1%, making it expensive to extract. The costly extraction process also means not many companies venture into producing and selling CBG products, albeit the perception that CBG is more potent than all the other cannabinoids.

Benefits of CBG

CBG is believed to interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), strengthening the function of anandamide, the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, pleasure, and motivation.

Studies also suggest that CBG reduces the effects of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A 2013 experiment found that CBG reduced inflammation and nitric oxide production in animals with IBD. (16) It also minimized the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the intestines.

Fighting Carcinogenic Cells

Since CBG is a neutral cannabinoid, it’s bound to exhibit higher anti-tumor activity in the body cells than any other cannabinoid. A correlation between a cannabinoid’s topological polar surface area (TPSA) value and its ability to initiate anti-tumor activity minimizes cancer cells’ growth rate. The TPSA value causes the cannabinoid molecules to penetrate the cancer membrane inhibiting cancer cell growth.

Neuroprotective Properties

CBG may help in the treatment of Huntington’s Disease, a genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of the nerve cells of the brain. A 2015 study on its effectiveness in treating the condition found that CBG reduces its effects by reducing its reactive microgliosis and pro-inflammatory markers. (17) It also restores the destroyed anti-oxidant defenses, ultimately improving the subject’s motor function and protecting its neurons.

CBG vs. CBD

The primary difference between these two cannabinoids is in their concentrations. CBG occurs in much lower levels (less than 1%), while CBD can be found in amounts as high as 20%. Also, CBD is readily available compared to CBG.

Another difference is evident in their effects. While CBD treats conditions affecting the central nervous system, CBG concentrates on the peripheral areas of the body. For example, CBD doesn’t significantly affect the digestive system, unlike its counterpart, which reduces IBD symptoms.

The two cannabinoids also share many similarities. Both hardly have psychoactive effects on users, meaning they don’t cause the high associated with cannabis products. Although CBG acts on CB1 and CB2 receptors, it doesn’t have similar psychoactive effects as THC.

Cannabinoids also provide therapeutic benefits to the body as they reduce inflammation, protect neurons from damage, and have anti-bacterial properties.

CBC

Cannabichromene

Cannabichromene (CBC) is the most abundant cannabinoid after CBD and THC. Its concentration is particularly high in Cannabis strains grown in India. The cannabinoid was first discovered in 1966, but little research has been conducted as most studies focus on CBD and THC.

CBC is formed by breaking down cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) using ultraviolet light or heat. It occurs naturally as other cannabinoids in the hemp plant. It doesn’t get you high as THC and is most effective when combined with other cannabinoids.

CBC interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors as well as TRPV1 and TRPA1 receptors, making it an effective alternative in the treatment of Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). (18) Its interaction with TRPV1 and TRPA1 receptors makes it an excellent alternative to traditional painkillers without causing harmful side effects. The cannabinoid can be used to make edibles, tincture oils, and other therapeutic hemp-based products.

Other CBC Benefits

 Although little study about CBC has been conducted, available studies show the cannabinoid provides a range of benefits to the body, such as:

Treat Cancer

A screening test of different cannabinoids found that CBC and CBG have anti-tumor effects. (19) According to the test, CBC significantly impacts gastrointestinal cancer cells as it has a TPSA value that allows a cannabinoid molecule to penetrate the cell membrane of a cancer cell.

Another study conducted in 2006 found a relationship between CBC and breast cancer cells. (20)The researchers found that CBD, CBC, and CBG were all potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth.

Aids in Pain Management

Although the analgesic effects aren’t as strong as THC, CBC also aids in pain management. It interacts with TRPV1 receptors, which regulate inflammatory pain caused by arthritis, edema, and other such conditions. Since CBC isn’t as strong as other cannabinoids, combining it with others is best to achieve a more substantial effect.

Anti-microbial Effects

CBC has strong antibacterial effects on acid-fast, gram-positive, and gram-negative bacteria. It also exhibits mild to moderate effects against specific types of fungi.

Boosts Mood

The ECS produces endogenous cannabinoids, including anandamide, which produces motivation and happy feelings. When the ECS isn’t functioning correctly, the body develops unbalanced anandamide levels, which make one gloomy. Since CBC binds to TRP channels like TRPV1, it activates them, activating the pathways that elevate one’s mood without intoxicating them.

Minimize Inflammation

Its anti-inflammation effects are more pronounced when combined with THC. Although research into CBC’s anti-inflammatory effects is in its infancy, CBC has demonstrated therapeutic benefits that could minimize inflammation in patients with osteoarthritis.

Neurological Benefits

A 2013 study found that CBC has the potential to promote healthy brain function. (21) CBC exhibited a positive effect on the cells that promote brain development in kids and learning and memory in adults.

The study found that CBC promotes the formation of neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs), which the brain transforms into astroglial cells, reducing the risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions.

These properties make CBC effective at treating neurological diseases like Parkinson’s Disease, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Treat Acne

CBC has anti-inflammatory properties that suppress excess lipid production, which causes acne. The excess lipids clog sebaceous glands causing the skin to break out. CBC goes a long way in fighting acne breakouts.

CBC vs. CBD

There isn’t much difference between CBD and CBC as they don’t cause an intoxicating high after consumption. They also have a low affinity for cannabinoid receptors like CB1 and CB2 and are most effective on other receptors.

CBC, for example, binds to TRPV1 (vanilloid receptor), also referred to as the third cannabinoid receptor in the ECS, and TRPA1 (transient receptor potential ankyrin 1) to alleviate pain. That’s why CBC can be used as an alternative to NSAIDs without causing adverse effects.

CBD vs. CBN vs. CBG vs. CBC: Final Thoughts

When choosing the best CBN vs. CBD vs. CBG vs. CBD, it’s best to evaluate your condition and select a cannabinoid with the most helpful compounds. CBD is ideal for people with anxiety, sleep problems, and pain, while CBN is known for treating eye conditions like glaucoma and improving one’s appetite.

It would also help to consult a doctor, mainly if you use other medications to treat the condition. Remember, most new cannabinoids are not well-researched, and having an expert’s opinion may give you more clarity. Sometimes a combination of cannabinoids might be more effective. You could administer 10% CBC, 30% CBG, 10% CBN, and 50% CBD to enjoy the benefits each cannabinoid provides.

References

  1. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/is-cbd-legal-heres-what-you-need-to-know-according-to-science
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3736954/
  3. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220830005761/en/United-States-Cannabinoid-THC-CBD-CBG-CBC-CBN-THCV-CBGA-Markets-Size-Share-Trends-Analysis-Report-2022-2030—ResearchAndMarkets.com
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16553576/
  5. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7439947/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6482919/
  8. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jnc.14639
  9. https://www.scielo.br/j/rbp/a/ksNG6tq9JC8pT8rdmCk7TTb/?lang=en&format=pdf
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4444130/
  11. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265863783_Effects_of_cannabidiol_in_the_treatment_of_patients_with_Parkinson’s_disease_An_exploratory_double-blind_trial
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5152762/
  13. https://cannabishealthnews.co.uk/2022/03/14/cbn-a-potential-treatment-for-glaucoma/
  14. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/inmed-announces-completion-of-subject-treatments-in-second-phase-1-clinical-trial-of-inm-755-cbn-cream-in-healthy-subjects-301137262.html
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18681481/
  16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2013.01.017
  17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-014-0304-z
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8485768/
  19. https://www.drugtargetreview.com/news/55433/cannabinoid-screening-reveals-anti-tumour-properties-of-cbc-and-cbg/
  20. https://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/318/3/1375.long
  21. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23941747/

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